Visiting and Singing and Things….

Tonight, Mike and I visited Sweetie 4.  She is doing really well.
She was talking about all the things she got to do during her childhood at home. Apparently they talked about this in group therapy today, and she was thinking about how much fun she had while she was home.
She was expressing thankfulness that we let her be a kid and play.
She told us that she shared one of her favorite things, and something she missed the most was being rocked in the rocking chair.
She shared in her group, “You might think it is weird, but I loved it and my mom sang to me the “Masterpiece” song.  And I know that if I were there, she would do it right now!”
She is correct. I would. 🙂
So in the detention visitation room, we put our hands to the glass
and I sang “Masterpiece” to her once again as little tears filled her eyes.  Oh how I love this girl. 🙂

Masterpiece
Before you had a name, or opened up your eyes, or anyone could recognize your face.  You were being formed, so delicate in size, secluded in God’s safe and hidden place. And with your little tiny hands, and little tiny feet and little eyes, that shimmer like a breeze. He breathed in you a song, and to make it all complete, He brought this masterpiece into the world.

And you are a masterpiece, a new creation He has formed. And you’re as soft and fresh as a snowy winter morn, and I’m so glad that God has given you to me… Little lamb from God. You are a masterpiece.

And now you’re growing up, your life’s a miracle, every time I look at you I stand in awe. Because I see in you, a reflection of HIM, and you’ll always be my little lamb from God. And as your life goes on each day, How I pray that you will see just how much, your life has meant to me! And I’m so proud of you, what else is there to say?
Just be the masterpiece He created you to be!

Because you are a masterpiece, a new creation he has formed. And you’re as soft and fresh as a snowy winter morn. And I’m so glad that God has given you to me! Little lamb from God…..
YOU are a masterpiece!

Sweetie 3 is a Driver!

Sweetie 3 is officially a licensed driver!
I’m so happy for her!
She has over come so much in her life, and just continues to press forward; no looking back!
She is driving without accommodations to the car even though she is a double amputee.  After I asked her about being able to feel the pedals, she said, “Mom, you wear shoes and many people wear high heels!”  True.
So, here’s to a new driver in the family! 🙂
Way to go!!!!

Ski Trip….

Sweetie’s 2 and 3 are headed to the Texas Scottish Rite Ski Trip once again!
I am so excited for them!
One uses 2 skis and the other snow boards.
But what they both do?
The serve, they love, they have fun and they represent the Lord and our family to others.
What precious gifts they are!
I am so THANKFUL for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children for giving them this opportunity once again!
What a blessing!

What Is A Mistake?

Warning!  This is a rant.

For the last several years, I have heard grown adults who have made horrible decisions, PURPOSEFUL decisions, when caught, say, “I made a mistake.”
It bothered me then, and it is REALLY bothering me now, because it has made its way into counseling offices, detention centers and courtrooms.

Let’s be real.  A MISTAKE is something unintentional.  A MISTAKE is when you make an error in your check book. A mistake is when you buy a shirt to match a pair of pants and when you get home the colors clash so it has to be returned.  A mistake is rather benign and innocent in nature.  It is NOT intentional.

When a person makes a very poor choice, or decision, or acts in a manner that is plain evil; folks, THAT IS NOT A MISTAKE! That is an intentional act.  It may not be the best idea, or a good decision, but a MISTAKE it is NOT!

To rob a bank and hold people hostage for hours, is NOT a mistake and to call it such diminishes the true weight of what the person has done.
There is no real healing in owning up to a “mistake”.
That is NOT truly facing poor choices and it takes the full weight of responsibility off of the offender and leaves the offended with some weightless excuse that has no valid meaning.

Lying is NOT a mistake.  Stealing is NOT a mistake.  It may be a very regrettable act, especially if one gets caught, but a mistake? NO!

As parents and counselors we need to be very careful NOT to be drawn into the societal pitfall of not taking responsibility for one’s actions, and therefore enabling the offender who makes terrible decisions to continue to do so as they do not face the reality that their actions were very, VERY wrong.
We must face the FACTS as a society that we are ALL capable of great wrong and to diminish our wrong doing to a simple “mistake”
is a slap in the face for those we offend.
True sorrow faces up to the facts that we have wronged somebody and that we are truly sorry.

If after leaving us bloodied  beaten and battered after a 6 hour rampage, you say, “I made a mistake”, my reply might be, “Dude! That was SOME MISTAKE!” “Let’s try again!”
But if you were to say, ” I don’t know why I did what I did, it was a terrible thing to do, a very poor decision, and I am so very sorry.”
We can talk.

So, thank you for hearing my Rant which is targeted at every Dallas Cowboy or sports figure who screams mistake after intentionally harming somebody,  and every counselor or person who is supposed to be helping, and to those who would diminish SIN, to a mistake.

The next time you make an unintentional error in your checkbook, don’t beat yourself up over it. THAT FOLKS,  IS A MISTAKE. 🙂

“To Be Continued”

dont give up
Many of you know that for the last year and a half, we have had a very difficult time with Sweetie 4 and more recently with Sweetie 1.
Struggles in life will happen.  As a dear friend said, “If it’s your turn to have tribulation, then tribulate!” 🙂

We have been soul searching our hearts over these two sweet hearts.   We love them dearly, but also realize that we are not miracle workers.   We have done our best, and we rest in that,  but the  pain of seeing  children destroying themselves  is so very difficult. to bear.
There is nothing you can do to stop it, if it is bound to happen.
No amount of love, can hold back the wave of trauma that comes crashing in if the child is determined to go their own way, only trusting in their brokenness , being blinded by a not fully developed brain that says, “I can do it my way!”
With Sweetie 1, I’m not convinced that her actions are necessarily because of early trauma, as much as it was because of plain ole’ sin.
As we have pondered especially the last few weeks, we have uncovered some insight that has brought light on  some of the reason that Sweetie 4 was going the direction she was.
There were some warning signs with Sweetie 1, but we were so wrapped up in trying to deal with Sweetie 4, we missed some.

I do not believe it would have changed anything, but possibly caused what happened to happen much sooner.

The GOOD NEWS is, these girls are still teenagers. They are so very young and we pray that they will not make any further life altering decisions.  Time and experience will hopefully cause them to ponder what they are doing, and choose love.
It appears that Sweetie 4 is already moving in that direction and we are SO THANKFUL for the wonderful program she is in.
Sweetie 1 however, even though she is young,  is almost an adult.  We are praying for her, that the Lord will direct her heart towards true repentance and that she will place her brokenness firmly in the hands of her Savior.

Our other sweeties are a blessing to us.  They have ministered to their sisters and to each other, and even to us in more ways than I can count.
ALL of them are a form of blessing.  Sometimes blessings come with rain, and the blessings that come with rain are deeply entrenched on our hearts, changing us in ways that could not have happened had there not been rain. 🙂

In all of this, I have been told that the editing of my book is finally complete.  I thought about that.  I finished writing it  a year and a half ago and all the girls were a huge part of it.  I could not figure out why it would take SO LONG to edit a simple book, but we rested and said, “It will come when it comes.”  And now here it is!
I now need to decide if I add to it,  start on book  two of four books, shelve it, or something else.

I’m leaning towards adding a…. “To Be Continued”…….
And that is true, whether it is a first or a last book, life is as always,
“to be continued….”

Punishment Vs. Natural Consequences

I have been thinking a lot lately about the difference between “Punishment” and “Natural Consequences”.

There are Natural Consequences to the things we do that are unavoidable. But punishment is disconnected.
Having NO consequences is different than having NO punishment.
Natural consequences for our actions are a part of real life.
That may seem like “splitting hairs” but it really isn’t.  The differences are huge.

Punishment is “punitive” it is meant to PUNISH for a wrong doing.
It is not  a natural result of an action, but a disconnected or manufactured action.
For instance, “You were late coming home, so I am taking away your video game time.”  OR “You have to stay in your room”.
There is no connection between the action and the sentence imposed.
That is a punishment.
A NATURAL consequence is quite different.
“You are late coming home, therefore, you cannot go out  tomorrow”.  That is NATURAL consequence of being late.
It connects the action with the consequence.
It makes sense.
Another example might be, if using the computer you go to an inappropriate site, you lose your computer time for a couple of days or you may have to have mom and dad apply a pass code so that you cannot use the computer without supervision.
It is a direct result of misusing the computer.
It is also meant to instruct in the proper way to behave.

If you lie, you might not be believed. That is a NATURAL consequence of lying.  A punishment would be “Because you lied you have to go to your room.”
Once again, for a child with FASD, that would make NO SENSE…. but they CAN connect not being believed if they lie.

If a child refuses to  eat a meal because his favorite item is not being served, the natural consequence of not eating is you will be hungry.
That lesson gets learned very quickly.  🙂

After the consequence is felt, or during the time the consequence is felt,  discussion can happen.  No matter the situation, talking can take place which leads to instruction.
“Do you understand why we are not believing what you have said?”
“If you are not honest, we cannot trust what you say to be true!”
“We want to trust what you say! Encourage! Be positive!
“Let’s practice telling the truth.”  Work on some role play with truth telling.   Talk about honesty and ways to be more honest, or MOST honest.
A fun game could be…. Give a scenario of somebody having to confess something they had done.
Somebody could “lie”, somebody could be “somewhat honest”,”somebody could be more honest”, and somebody could be “MOST HONEST”!  And then discuss what is best, how you feel about being MOST honest  and why.

Role play, even for teens is very important.  You can enact, or reenact scenarios to help them understand and improve on life skills, like telling the truth and being responsible.

For a teen who is less likely to participate in active role play, you can try to talk during a board game like Chess, checkers or backgammon.
Find a way to relax being together, but also a back door way to bring in instruction.  “You were really great playing this game! It is so fun to play when everybody is honest and doesn’t cheat, don’t you think?”

Having NO consequences at all, is not real and can be detrimental for adult life.
If you don’t pay your taxes, there is a direct penalty.  If you speed, you get a ticket or possibly lose your right to drive if you are a minor. If you are late to work, you may be fired.  If you don’t pay your electric bill, they may cut off your electricity.  Those are all natural consequences based upon an action.  As adults, if you do not pay your electric bill, they do not call you and say you have to go to your room, or take away your video games, nor do they say, “It’s ok, just pay it next time.  The result is directly related to your action. NO pay, NO electricity!

Natural consequences are a necessity for teaching life lessons.
Do not be afraid to use natural consequences for teaching lessons with your children.
They are a real part of life.

Great Visit

We had a really great visit with Sweetie 4 tonight, after meeting with her counselor.  She is starting to work hard in the program she is in and we are so thankful for the hard work going on behind the scenes.
Sweetie 4 is a very likable girl!  She can truly be so funny and sweet, and tonight we saw our real girl.
She was able to share some things with us that she had been wanting to share for a long time, and she did it with respect!

YEA SWEETIE!!!!!

We are rooting for her!!!!!

Riding The Tidal Wave of Pain

The last two weeks have been utterly devastating in more ways than I can count.  Our precious little family has been tossed and turned by  waves of pain unimaginable.

As I write this, I am comforted and reminded of the fact that we cannot live our children’s lives for them.  We cannot force their healing, but only watch their journey and offer help and guidance to reach out to the true Healer of our battered souls.

I am reminded that our children’s journeys are not over when they do horrendous things.  There IS a plan greater than all of us, and this period of time is a time woven with a special thread in that life tapestry.  It is a STRONG thread that binds us together in love and hope.  I picture that thread being Red, as all is covered in that loving Fountain of Christ’s blood shed on the cross for sin.  Even sin that is seemingly unforgivable.

How can we not forgive, when we have been forgiven so much?

Our Sweetie 1, is no longer with us.  We are crushed. But we are not without hope.  And here is where I am reminded once again, and I believe fervently, that the path to true healing is so individual. There is no one size fits all remedy for trauma, as each child is different, and each child will bring with them into the family, wounds, personality traits, little sin natures, and excess baggage, that will present themselves at different times.
I remember being very challenged with Sweetie 1 coming home. She was our first girl. She was so adorable and so full of drama and trauma.
How in the WORLD can a child born so recently have SO MUCH TRAUMA?  But she did.
Through 12 years of raising and loving her, she seemingly responded very well.
But there was a dark life, behind all that.  And it has been drawn out into the light.  Darkness doesn’t like light.
But Light LOVES and WAITS.
We were blind sided by what happened, but we are not blind any more.  We have our eyes wide open, and in God’s great mercy, we can now move forward, waiting for our Prodigal to return.  She may not return in the same way as before, it may be later, and will most likely not be in our home, but we pray for that healing to happen.

LOVE lets go. We cannot control our children or what they do, especially at 17.
We can guide and we can pray. Oh how we can pray!
And the end is not written yet. We know that at some point, things will change. We know she has a life to live and that she will ALWAYS know that she was greatly loved and cherished.

Today, as I was sitting here getting ready to write, we got a very sweet letter from Sweetie 4.  We have had despair with Sweetie 4, but we are seeing a glimmer of light.
I pray that we see that light with Sweetie 1.

We are resting in Christ’s love and the precious people he has sent into our lives to minister to us right now.

1 Peter 4:12-13
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may  also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”

 

Merry Christmas!

We are having a really nice Christmas Season.  Of course we miss our Sweetie 4 being away from us, but we have been able to visit her, and we took her favorite foods to her yesterday so she could enjoy them with her pod mates.  The detention center does a really good job of remembering that our children are STILL Children!
And they made the day special for them.

Tonight when we go to visit her, we will have some questions about how her day went and we will be able to share how ours went too. 🙂

The other Sweeties all had a wonderful time at home, and one of them had a special friend over for the day as her parents had to work.

In this special Season, we wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and celebrate “God With Us”, the Incarnate one, the Holy One, our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Processing The Weekend

This week was wonderful and sad.  It was full of joy and full of heartache.  Isn’t that just like real life?  We don’t all live in fairy tale land where everything is perfectly wrapped up each and every holiday with a nice little ribbon.  We live real. 🙂  And REAL is what matters in life.

The great things about the week:
1. Uncle Bob came.  We LOVE our Uncle Bob. He has been a steady in  our lives and the lives of our boys  since Mike and I married, and in the girls lives since they came home.  He is a LOVING and KIND uncle who has invested in them and they ALL adore him.

2.  We had Sweetie 1’s boyfriend’s family over for Thanksgiving. We all had a wonderful time!  Our son and daughter in law and 4 of our grand children came for Thanksgiving dinner.
Our youngest grandson Felix somehow managed to find my personal Christmas present while taking a nap in my room and managed to empty an entire bottle of lavender essential oil in my room.  LOL
Oh the aroma!
I love toddlers!

3.  The meal was fantastic, if I don’t say so myself. 🙂  I am a stuffing lover and the stuffing turned out great.  That makes me happy.

4.  Sweetie 2 and 3 and my daughter in law and I slipped away to a Starbucks on Thursday night and had a great conversation.

5.  On Friday, we went over to our son’s house and all the guys were there that live in Texas, with 10 of our grand children.  It was a wild and happening place!  Sweetie 2 cleaned up on the game of Hearts. 🙂

6.  I talked with our grand daughter Lillian from NM.  And then I talked with our son too.  I love all of them so much.  I miss them, but honestly, I’m glad they live in NM… It is a GREAT place and it gives me reason to go back to NM!   I loved it when we lived there.

7.  Sweetie 1 turned 17 and was a great sport that her birthday landed on Black Friday. 🙂  We did our traditional celebration, (see post below) and she had a good birthday. 🙂

8.  My daughters’ in law made GF desserts!!!!  Whoa baby!
I didn’t have to say, “No, I can’t have that. ”  🙂

9.  We decorated for Christmas and watched the traditional
“Miracle On 34th Street”  with Natalie Wood and Maureen O’Hara.
100_9858
10.  I was able to take the Sweeties to movie while I visited Sweetie 4 at the detention center.  It was perfect.  I dropped them off a little early, drove to see her, and by the time I got back, it was time to pick them up. 🙂

And now to process the not so great stuff:

1.  This is the first year we have had a Thanksgiving where I didn’t call my mom.  She passed away in August.  I honestly have not had a real chance to grieve, as things have been so intense and difficult, anytime I showed any emotion, Sweetie 4 would get angry.  I tried so save my emotions for bath time where I could have privacy.

2.  My sister in law is back in the hospital and the news is not good. 🙁
She has been battling breast cancer for 18 years. It has been a long and courageous fight.  But the cancer has returned with a vengeance into her brain. 🙁  She spent Thanksgiving in the hospital surrounded by her family.  Our hearts are with her.

3.  Our dear sister in the Lord passed away last week from Leukemia
and we hurt for her children, dear friends of ours. We rejoice that her life was WELL LIVED and that she is with her Lord and Savior.

4.  I visited Sweetie 4 at the detention center on Monday and let her know that I would not be able to visit on Thanksgiving day. (a special visitation time was available between 1 and 3)  The detention center has a HUGE celebration with community leaders.  I just didn’t feel it would be right to drive an hour away, during which our other girls were at home, and arrange family time around detention time.
It is so surreal, having to think about these things. But the truth is, that she got herself into detention. She is not remorseful, and it is a situation she has created.  I think it would be wrong to make the other children work around the detention schedule.  They need to come first. They have committed no crimes and NEED our attention too.
So, I visited on Monday and told her I would not be able to visit on Thursday.  She said she didn’t know why I would visit anyway! She doesn’t want us to visit her.
I got a call on Friday night that she was placed on “moderate” suicide watch for “cutting”.  I don’t know what she used to cut, or scratch herself, but apparently she was covered.
I was told that she had a wonderful time at Thanksgiving, was smiling and happy and dancing.  But on Friday, she was not happy.
I went to visit on Saturday and she was angry.  She came to see me but once again asked, “Why are you here? I don’t think you should come to see me.”
I told her, ” You cannot tell me that I can’t come to see you.  You can refuse to see me when I come, but I WILL come, because I love you.”
She asked, “Why?”
WHY? Why do I love my own daughter?  She is the daughter that God placed in our family. We have poured our lives into her for nearly 5 years.  She is beautiful, and can be sweet and kind. She is a great artist, and she can be funny.  She is smart and has a future ahead of her if she will grasp it!
I told her, “You are my daughter, I choose to love you!”
“You are WORTH LOVING!”
She grimaced.
Not a lot of eye contact was made. She was rough in her speech and told me of some issues she was having and how she didn’t want to participate in the program she has been blessed with.
I asked her about her cutting and she refused to show me her cuts.
She said she was going to get off of suicide watch so she could have coke and candy. (They were allowed this this weekend)
As we talked, the time passed quickly, and I realized that the center gave us an extra FORTY minutes past what we are typically allowed.
(They are really wonderful people)
I told her that I had to go because I had to pick her sisters up from the movie. She said, “You hang up first.”  I said, “No!” “We’ll hang up together and I counted to 3 and we both hung up our phones at the same time. ”  I saw a smile come across her face.  🙂

I left the detention center trying to hold it together.  I don’t even know how to process where she is emotionally.  She is doing her best to reject us.  So much was said, so much I can’t even process.
I’m hoping that she is going to get through this and come out the other side, more mature, and ready to deal with life, however long that takes, and that eventually she will be able to safely be with us once again.
It is a hope.
Her bio sister wrote to her and she didn’t appreciate the letter very much. 🙁  We worked so hard to get them together, and she is so very willing right now to just throw relationships away.  She must be so angry and ashamed.
Trauma is a cruel ruler and a poor leader.

One thing we do know and rest in;
we love her and we have done all we can and will continue to do all we can, but the outcome will be up to her.
We cannot force her to do well, participate in the program or make wise choices. Those things are up to her.
She knows she is loved.  It is the brave thing to forgive those in our past and love those in our present.
Someday, I pray she is brave, and  sees how every much she has been loved.
I hope that day comes and it isn’t too late for her to share that love with those who truly love her.
Living a life of regrets would be so very sad.

We want to live our lives without regret!
We hope she follows the same path.

So, how are we doing?  We are honestly doing well!
The Sweeties have endured much as well as us and we are all processing what has happened.  We are close as a family and will continue to pray together and choose to love Sweetie 4.
There is much forgiveness, but that does NOT mean that we blindly accept violent behaviors into our home.
We MUST be safe and keep our other sweetie’s safe. We have this year to make some decisions on sweetie’s placement depending upon how she does in detention.
It is a path we never expected to walk, but one we are walking!
And we are walking it in faith and trust in the ONE who knows all things!

And Another One Turns 17

Sweetie one has followed Sweetie three and turned 17!!!
Do you know what that means???  In the next year, we will have two adults in our home!  Wow!  How did that happen so fast?

She had a wonderful Birthday today spending time with friends and family, baking a cake, and having Pizza and a Movie for tonight.

This particular sweetie has always struggled with Holidays and her Birthday, but she has blown us all away and had a great day yesterday and today.  So happy for her!

Happy Birthday Sweetie!!!!

Thanksgiving ….

The famous cake
My other blog… 🙂

It has snuck up on us so quickly!!!  THANKSGIVING!!!!
It is a time of thanks, of family gathering and reflection.

I am so thankful for my family and for all the Lord has brought us through this year. I’m thankful for the experiences and life lessons and the simple family gatherings with the grand children being so very funny and sweet.   I’m thankful for the safe delivery of our youngest grand daughter Miss Ruby, and for the compassionate judge that spoke so eloquently to our youngest daughter Sweetie 4.

I’m also thankful for blogging. If I hadn’t blogged all those recipes, I wouldn’t remember how to cook some very fine foods! 🙂
Tonight it was Pumpkin Bread; gluten free of course!
If you don’t know, I have a cooking blog with very tasty recipes.
They are Gluten Free but not taste free!
Feel free to stop over and visit at :  http://www.christiemsglutenfreetestkitchen.blogspot.com/

Have a WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!

Guess Who Starts a New Job Tonight??

SWEETIE THREE!
So now we have a Chicken girl and a Pizza Girl!

Big Court

We surprisingly had big court yesterday.  It wasn’t supposed to happen until the 30th, but the attorney managed to get an earlier date. We were given less than 24 hours notice, and yet, our counselor and our pastor were there to be with us.

It was awkward.  We were sitting behind sweetie, and she was in handcuffs and leg irons. 🙁  She didn’t turn around, and we didn’t know what we were allowed to do. The prosecutor came over to her and whispered to her and then asked us if we would like to give her a hug.
So we instantly went over to her and hugged her and gave her encouraging words.  She whispered she was afraid, and we reassured her that she was staying where she was, just changing rooms.

Her tone then changed as we began to have a short conversation and she said she couldn’t wait for counseling to begin, because we have a lot of changes we need to make. She couldn’t tell us what they were, and so we just said, this isn’t the time to talk about that.

Part of the program will include 11 weeks of parent training for us.
And then counseling every 2 weeks for her and us together.
This is a good thing! We can always learn something new!

Sweetie will be gone for a long time, but it is what is best for everybody.  She told us that she picked staying in long term to please us.  I wish she had picked not breaking her probation, going to school and doing her homework to please us instead.  🙁

So, our new normal has begun.  We have made a larger list of visitors for her and I was given a list of things to get for her. She can now have her own soap, deodorant and brush.  I purchased the things on the list and took them back up there.  We also donated some Books DVD’s as the kids are sometimes allowed to watch movies, and they are allowed to read all the time.
I included “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”.

I have much to reflect on, much to say, but it will take some time to process and get my thoughts together to put into writing.
We love our Sweetie and we always will.  It is our desire and hope that this program will help her and give her insight into her behaviors.
It is up to her to do well, but so far, even in court she is not taking any responsibility.

The judge and attorneys and even the prosecution was very kind to us this time.  They even said we have done all we can do to help her, and the judge noted that she had been following the case and was convinced there was nothing more we could do.  She encouragingly said, “It is now our turn to try and help. And I think our program is excellent. ”
I hope Sweetie takes advantage of all the help being given and comes out realizing just how fortunate she is!
I know a couple of posts down I said that they system is cold and uncaring.  The system yes, but the people within the system, no.
There are some very caring attorneys, jailers and judges.
So very thankful for all of the parts they are playing in  our society to keep people safe from themselves, and to keep families safe too.

In some cases, outside sources such as law enforcement must become part of the healing process.  I think it is more rare, but there are those rare kiddos that need that outside intervention.
Sweetie is one of those cases.

Trauma and Holidays

Originally written in November 2011
with addendum 2015

I have written about our children’s internal clock, and how Holidays can wreak havoc on a child who has suffered much in life.
We are not strangers to Trauma, or Anniversaries.   Those anniversaries are usually not positive!  They bring back memories and our children suffer so.

Over the years, I have found that preparing our children for the holidays ahead of time, helps with the impact of the Anniversary.

Two of our daughters LOVE Holidays and Birthdays!  One of our daughter’s likes the holiday time, but has so many hurtful memories.  And then one of our daughters would prefer that Holidays didn’t exist.   It is a stressful time for her.

We have done our best to rewrite memories that are good and her memories of good times at Holidays are there.  But what is also there is rejection, pain and the memories of long ago.

Unfortunately, her birthday comes right at the SAME TIME!  She likes her birthday but doesn’t like to make a big deal of it.

There are positive things that can come out of the holidays.  It is a great opportunity to help our children to work through that old trauma!    While it may not be exactly how we would view holidays, they are a perfect time to work on some tough things. 🙂

So today we had some extra rocking chair time for a couple of girls.
We talked about what to expect and came up with some positives!

Now, In the middle of this rocking chair time I was baking like a crazy woman, trying to figure out a new recipe and one of our girls was telling me she wanted a new room mate! LOL
One minute she was playing peacefully and the next she was full of angst.
The room mate request signaled to me a need for a rocking chair experience.
THAT is when we as parents drop EVERYTHING and focus. It was time to put the baking aside for somebody WAY more important that a perfect pie.

But poor Sweetie 4 was just so sad that she will not be able to see her other brother and sister.  She was mournfully blaming herself…. “It is all my fault because I had a bad attitude”.  🙁
And then I had to carefully work through THAT minefield and tell her NO! It was NOT ALL your fault… HOWEVER, you DID have behaviors that were not appropriate.
But parents normally don’t send their kids away like that.  THAT is NOT your fault!
She went on to say, “I had NO IDEA they would do that!”
I told her I’m GLAD you had NO idea! Because it isn’t normal!
“You had those same behaviors when you came here, and we worked through them, right?”
She smiled and said tearfully, “Thank you for keeping me mommy!”
That broke my heart. 🙁

I pray that some day when her siblings are older, that they will be able to reconnect.  But for now, that is just not possible.

I reassured her at the same time that I believe she is where she belongs.  She agreed and said something very profound…. “Mama, I don’t think I could have healed if I hadn’t come here.”
And then I got the biggest hug ever… and a big smile….
It was a sweet time. 🙂

I hugged our other girl and rocked her after that.  And we talked all about the plans for the weekend.  She managed some sweet snuggles, I love you’s and smiles. 🙂

I took one of our girls out and talked about what the plans were for the weekend.  We also joked that when she was older, she just might spend Holidays camping or on a cruise! LOL  She loved that idea.

It is really important for us to accept our children where they are.  There is no moral dilemma with being stressed by Holidays.
We have a huge family, and it can be stressful for one of our daughters in particular. At the same time, she really does enjoy the time, just in smaller bites. 🙂
She LOVES her little nephews and nieces and and can be found entertaining them.
And then…. she’ll slip off to read or write…. and that is OK!

Do not let relatives pass judgment on your children.  Encourage your children to be polite and kind, but don’t force them to be fake.
Things are much more peaceful that way.

Everybody is tucked in and the last of the baking is going on……
Praying for those of you who’s children suffer during the Holidays.

And addendum:

It is now 2015 and it is November, and I’m starting to bake like a crazy woman once again.  Actually, I’m cracking a LOAD of pecans!
It is quiet at home.  Sweetie 2’s birthday is coming up and she is actually excited about it and has invited a few friends over. 🙂
She is still more quiet and reserved than the others and that is ok.
Working her way through the holidays every year has been helpful for her. This a.m. she left for a big foot ball game and on her way out gave us both an I love you. 🙂

The other two sweeties are in the holiday spirit already!  I showed them the special guest soaps I found at a bargain and they ooed and awed at them and are happily waiting to go and serve today at the church.

Our youngest sweetie you know, if you have read our blog before is now incarcerated and separated from family. 🙁  This is the first time she won’t be with us for the holidays.  She is just starting to come to terms with that reality.

We are looking forward to spending the Holidays with family and friends.  Full Steam ahead to Healing!
And even if Sweetie 4 isn’t with us, Love NEVER Fails.   I sent “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” DVD for her pod to be able to watch.
And we will visit. 🙂

 

A Precious Moment

Computer generated image - Search For Solution

Computer generated image – Search For Solution

Today was Sweetie 4’s ARD meeting at the detention center.  She didn’t have a very good visit on Sunday with Mike and I was worried that today wouldn’t be a good time either.
BUT… the unexpected happened!
I was able to go into the room with the other members of the ARD team and she was there, and NOT behind glass!

I walked up to her and offered her a hug. She looked at the officer who nodded that it was ok.  We embraced and then we started the meeting.
I took her hand and she let me hold her hand for nearly 2 hours, as we met.
I kept my composure as we talked about the findings of her testing, and the ideas of how to best meet her needs.

Swarming through my mind was, “Why oh WHY can she not just be normal at home like this moment; the moment when all eyes are upon us.  Why oh WHY, can such a sweet girl be so violent?
WHY?
I am the same person there, as I am at home.   Mike is the same person
at the center as he is at home. The other girls, Sweetie’s 1, 2 and 3 are the same people they are at home as they are anywhere else; but Sweetie 4 isn’t.
She just isn’t.
Why is it that at home she is violent and regularly curses the worst of things at us?    She is that way with us during visitation, but if others are around, she is a sweetheart.
Today, she was a sweetheart.
She got glowing reports from her teachers.
My heart beams that she is doing well in detention, but is crushed that she can’t seem to cross that bridge to replicate it at home.

Intellectually I know the answer to this.  But emotionally it is very hard to accept.
This is a raw post.  But it is where we are.  It is where I am right now.
I know the Lord has this, but I feel weary; so very weary.

Big court is going to happen soon. We were served the papers yesterday.  It is just an unknown what will happen.  We are in agreement with probation, but there is an attorney that might have a differing opinion.
So, we are up in the air until the time comes and I am having to come to terms with the unknown, and that there are those out there, whom we do NOT know who have opinions of where OUR child should be, and they don’t really know any of us.
It is most uncomfortable.

There is a process going on, and we are beginning to learn and understand it.  But it is a cold, hard process.  It doesn’t care about us, or her.  It is law.
That is it.

So, I will cherish the last moments we had today, holding hands and embracing.  And on the 30th, we will learn Sweetie’s future….. for awhile anyway.


 

Things I’ve Learned From My Kids

Originally written  Sept. 2009


Baby’s EAT A LOT….they do not care if you are tired. They want to eat.
They do not care if you are tired. They need to be changed;  and then they barf.
Toddlers listen to commercials and can repeat them in the most embarrassing of places.
Chuck, at 2 picked up a huge package of feminine napkins at the grocery store and said, “GET THESE, There super absorbant!”
TV OFF!
Boys need to be told their wardrobes do not consist of super man underwear and cowboy boots.
Boys also need to told they must wear clothes to go outside!
If boys could choose their own wardrobes, they would be superman underwear and band aids all over their bodies.

Boys are HONEST. Wonderfully HONEST! I seem to remember one of them looking at my legs and saying, “mom, your legs are just like Rifles!” Did he mean they were long?

We learned this at family dinner time:
During our prayer Joseph thanked God that he and Marcus made it up onto the school roof and back down safely. To which, everybody’s eyes opened, but nobody said a word, until after prayer was over. 🙂

Boys are physical. They need wonderful, LOUD activity. We were so fortunate to have a big backyard.

Boys love their mom. They are always good for a great snuggle.

Boys aren’t snippy gossips. They say things like it is, forgive and move on, never
to think about it again. I love this about boys.
One of our son’s best friends to this day, and our son, had an argument. Our son’s friend called him a sun flower, because he was wearing his favorite orange sweat pants and shirt…. our son got mad and threw something at him. His friend called me and said, “Mrs. M. It is time for Joseph to go home. 🙂
LOL I went to pick him up. They had already made up and it is now a big funny story.

Boys don’t cry if they don’t understand their math. They don’t cry if there is a new challenge. If they have to do it again, you might get a groan, but not a full fledged dramatic alligator tear cry.

Boys will do anything to create nun chucks, including getting into mom’s hygiene products, tying them together and taking them outside. :/

When boys turn 10, they need deodorant.
Boys love to make movies. If you have a video camera, it will provide HOURS of unending creative fun for them.
(think Spielman)

Boys will cooperate with most anything you ask, including killing 10 turkeys, and getting them freezer ready all in one night before leaving for vacation.

Boys are quieter with their compliments, but you know they love you forever.

Boys are not run by emotion, so when they determine to do something, they do it.
Boys become men far quicker than we are ready for them to.
It is important to let them be men, even while they are still boys to their mom.

Boys will eat Top Ramen every single day without complaint if that is what it takes to get through college.

If you let your boys know you are coming to eat at their restaurant, they will put a table cloth, candle, and the best cloth napkins on it. They will serve you in a manner fit for Kings and Queens, just because they love you. (of course great tips help)

Boys will bring their future mate to meet you, just to get your input.When boys marry, they go and cleave to their wives, which is what they should do.
And there is a little pain in a mom’s heart, because the time was so very short, and
they are now men.

Girls are a different sort of creature.
They wake up wondering what they will wear for the day.
Then they change their minds several times and you have much laundry to do.

Girls play is quite different. They are not out wrestling on the ground. Instead they walk in pretty dresses with umbrellas, pretending to be Anne of Greene Gables.They love to pretend to be a mommy, so every animal is their child. They love to play “house”, so they will rearrange things for you, and then, when you go to cook, you can’t find anything.
They do this to the groceries too, and their organizational skills are usually different than your own.

Girls can play very well together, but they are much more interested in who is in charge and who gets to make the decision.

Girls spend 3/4 of lunch time deciding 1. who is in charge 2. what they are going to play 3. what each person’s character is, and then it is time for lunch to end and they complain they didn’t have time to play!

Girls tend to hold things against each other that boys don’t even think about.
“She looked at me!” ” “Well golly, I’m really gonna have to do something about that!” LOL

Girls have to be taught to use kind words, speaking sweetly, not thinking the worst of somebody, where boys just seem to be natural at that.Girls LOVE their daddy! They love to go places with him, of course this is all decided ahead of time between them. Its the turn thing again.

Girls are more “Crafty” oriented than boys. They can sit for hours cutting paper, gluing things, painting pretty pictures, making crafts for the tree at Christmas, knitting, sewing, embroidery; it seems to be a natural thing for them.

Girls love to do “school”…. When school is over, they “Pretend school” and even do real math problems! go figure…. LOL

Girls make a big change in maturity when they start to change physically. Some things they won’t do anymore, they are much too lady like; sometimes they forget and climb that tree. 🙂
Girls will sit and talk and talk and talk AND TALK, and tell you all sorts of things about their day, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and ask you “what do you think mom?”
They need reassurance that they are beautiful, lovely creatures. But they also need to be taught that true beauty comes from within the heart, and the real time we spend needs to be on our hearts, not on our hair.

If you take a nap around girls, you will wind up with a manicure and a pedicure.
Your hair may be styled in a most interesting fashion, and they DON’T want you to change it.

Girls like to go “shopping”, just to look. I’m a girl and I don’t particularly like this, but all of mine do.

Girls are so very interesting. They have taught me a lot about being a girl. For a long time I was uncomfortable with my own girlhood.

Having been in a family of all men since I was 18, made me the odd girl out. 🙂
Having the girls though, has helped me to see and learn much I didn’t understand about myself from my own childhood.

I am so thankful for my boys and my girls. I am so thankful for the blessings the Lord has given to us. I am so thankful for the lessons the children have taught me over the years. I have been humbled and blessed by having been a part in their lives. I do not deserve to have had such a wonderful life.

One of the most important things I can do for my kids is be vulnerable. To let them see my flaws and to show them that we all have them and that God knows it. We cannot hide them from him, and they shouldn’t hide their flaws from us.
For them to see me study the Word of God looking for answers when I don’t have them, is so important; to apologize to them if I haven’t answered them with a soft heart. It is important for them to see me pray. It is important for them to know that I pray for them daily. It is important for them to know that I think EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM are wonderful, unique, talented in their own ways, precious, lovely individuals and that we, both mom and dad support them in all they do.It is important for them to know that I love dad and dad loves me.

I am convinced that God gives us our children as gifts, to mold, teach and shape US, while we are in the process of trying to teach our own children. They are part of the water he pours on the clay so we can blend, not be so rigid, so we can be crushed down, and built back up through dependence upon Him. As we learn to depend upon Him, for guidance, for wisdom and instruction, He brings that clay pot through the fire, and the shape that the pot takes eventually, in the end is refined and pleasing to the Lord. I’m still in the water pouring and fire stage. 🙂

I used to think that God did it backwards. He gave kids energy and adults fatigue.
Now I know that he did that so we would not depend upon our own selves, but be ever dependent upon him to get through our days.

 

So PROUD of Sweetie!

stevie flightShe’s tiny but mighty! 🙂
Her flight did great in the presentation.

Veteran’s Day Tomorrow

AFJROTC logo.bmp.xbm
And, guess who is going to be in the ceremony?  Sweetie 2!  🙂  This is her 3rd year in AFJRROTC  and she is really looking forward to leading her unit.  Each year the veterans in our area are honored at the ceremony and there are still men from World War 2 and the Korean war  who come.

I was watching her march last night and my mama heart was so proud of her.  She is thinking about her future now  and has decided she wants to go to the police academy. I think this will be a very good fit for her. 🙂
They are growing up!!!
Sweetie 1 is a senior, and Sweetie’s 2 and 3 are Jr’s.  Sweetie 4 is a freshman… Oh my…..time has gone so FAST!

Meeting At The School

Sweetie finished all her testing right before she went into detention, so we had a pre ARD meeting yesterday at the school.  We had such a great meeting.  The plans that will be set into place when she returns to the school will start from least restrictive and if she handles that well, they will remain, if she can’t they will act quickly to change her IEP to reflect her exact needs until we all get it right.

I could not ask for a better team of people.  We had some questions about things written in the plan which included a teddy bear and stress balls, but it was explained that these COULD be tools used to help her calm herself if needed.  If they don’t help, other things can help including zentangles etc.

Sooo, the complication is that she is no longer in the district.  Her final meeting will be at the detention center. That makes me a little nervous because it will be a completely different set of people. 🙁
But we will press on.

CONNECTED!

baby hand
Visiting Sweetie 4 on Thursday evening  didn’t go so well.  She wound up leaving the visit asking  demanding  for me never come back , saying that she would refuse my visits.

I have to say, that had never happened before in any of our visits.  So this was new.  It wasn’t without trepidation that I returned to visit this a.m.

She wasn’t  expecting me, even though this is our normal routine, but I was there, determined to make a connection with her.  I am her mama, and in her words from the past,  the best mama she has had ‘so far’.  🙂   Hopefully the LAST! 🙂
I am mama 4.    Could you imagine having FOUR mothers!
And those are just the “official” mothers, not the ones who do temporary care.
Other than her birth family , we are the family  who has had the longest relationship with her.  She was in her birth family for 7 1/2 years.  She has been with us almost 5.

Today’s Visit:
She came in and we started our visit with typical small talk.
“What are you reading? What movie did you watch? Who is
caring for your pod today?”  etc.
Then came the sharing of the weekend events that she typically loves to hear about.They were   that Aunt Carla, Uncle Bob and Uncle Dave came to visit us and that at the hotel, they served Texas Shaped Waffles to the guests. We watched part of Les Miserables, and the girls went to see a movie with friends.

Without a break in small talk, she went from smiling to yelling.
“You just want me in here! You don’t want me at home! Why are you visiting me I told you you are wasting your time!!!”
“Families are SUPPOSED to be together for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Birthdays and YOU DON’T WANT ME HOME! ”
“IF YOU DID YOU’D TELL THE JUDGE!”
and more.
She then put the phone down and refused to talk to me, ringing the bell to leave.
I moved over to the next window where I could see her and knocked on the window lightly…. She finally looked up and trying to smile,  so she didn’t think I was mad, I held  the phone up…..
She picked up the phone and said, “WHAT?”  “Why are you here? ”
“Why would I want to talk to you? You’re AFRAID of what I might do, RIGHT?”
“YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT ME!”
I waited for her to stop, and the officer banged on the door telling her to settle down or she’d lose her visit.  “She said, “YES SIR! I don’t care, I don’t want her to visit!”  But he wisely didn’t open the door. 🙂
(He is a really REALLY fine man)

So I tried a different idea.  “Sweetie, breathe with me, just like we do at home.  And she DID…. We took some deep cleansing breaths together, her on one side of the glass and me on the other.
I put my hand up to the glass and asked her to put her hand up, and she DID….
And then, I was able to “connect” with her.
“Sweetie, I’m here because I love you.  I’m here because I have HOPE!” “I will NEVER EVER give up on you.”
“Do you think maybe you are afraid?”  She seemed to relax and
talk about her disappointment of having to stay so long.
It was then that I could once again give her clues as to why she was there and why it was going to be longer this time.
She listened as I was very clear but gentle with her.  You are here because of your own decisions, not because mom and dad placed you here.  We think this is going to be a good place for you for awhile. They have counseling and life skills training that you need!
When you are home, you won’t try and your decisions are not good decisions.  It is not ok to break your probation requirements!

And then I told her that her counselor said that she shouldn’t worry about high school electives that she can’t get there. College is what matters for career, and the biggest thing to work on is doing well outside of detention, because THOSE behaviors will decide how far she can go in a career, not if she had Spanish or pre med sciences.

As we continued the conversation, she was feeling so “displaced” because she isn’t 100% sure where she is going to be.  We talked about how at home, every year we switch roommates and change things up a little bit.  Maybe she could think of where she is like that for awhile.  In January, we will be changing rooms up again at home. In detention, at some point soon, she will be changing from Short Term to Long term and will get a new room.  We talked about the positives in long term including she could write in her room, instead of only in the common area like in short term, and before I knew it, she was much calmer.

We changed the subject a little bit again and I asked her what we could bring to long term when she is there during the holidays.
She had already been asking those questions and had some answers.
By the time our visit was over, she was in a more pleasant mood, had decided that tomorrow she would tell the judge she is ready for long term and that she wants to do well.

I’m so glad I didn’t leave when she said she was finished with the visit.
And so glad that she looked up at my knocking and responded to pick up the phone again, and try again.

She is so exhausted from herself.  But right now, she is trapped because she does NOT want to face the WALL that she can’t seem to climb.
She will never have to climb it alone.  We will be there as a safety net for her as much as we can.  But we cannot “save” her from her behaviors. We have helped her to see that she needs to be responsible and accountable, and provide other healthier tools to help her  handle her anger, fear, frustration and confusion about love and family. But she has to pick those tools up and use them.
She MUST.

We are so thankful to be in an area where Juvenile Detention is looked upon as a place for rehabilitation and not just a waiting game until a kid goes to adult jail.  They are working VERY hard to provide services that are truly helpful, and she could not be in a better place to meet her needs at this point.

Of course, we would love to have her home, but right now, she is too dangerous to be at home.  It is so hard to write that.  Safety is important.

BUT… we connected.  And it was good.

An “Ah-Ha” Moment

Peace VS. Chaos
find-peace-amongst-chaos-300x200

After our visit on Thursday evening, we were discussing the events that lead up to incarceration, and what things are like now.

As predicted, Sweetie 4 was fine. She appeared to be calm and was smiling when we came in.  She was asking about granola bars that she likes and was a little worried she might not pass Spanish when she gets back because the detention center does not offer Spanish. It was as if she doesn’t know that she will be there for quite a while.
She struggles with the concept of time.

We just let her talk. There was NO MENTION of the young man she was ready to die and go to jail for.  Not a mention.  There was not a mention of what happened, regarding her violence and anarchy.
Instead, she was complaining with a slight smile that the other girls in her pod are so badly behaved and it drives her crazy so she screams for everybody to shut up.
She went on to explain that she is the best behaved in the pod and has lost no points and has not had any “room time”.

As we were listening, it was like hearing the very same words from the last two times in detention.
And it dawned on me…. My “Ah Ha Moment”……

Something we haven’t been able to figure out, was WHY she is so much more well behaved in detention, besides the fact that there are locks and officers that have some serious power.

I have written much on my blogs about chaos and the craving of chaos at a brain level… (a bio chemical level)  I do not think this is  a purposeful choice in a way, as the brain is craving it, much like you or I would crave sugar or caffeine.
So even though she knows what she is doing is not ok, it is like she caves in to a sugar attack.  But it isn’t sugar.  It is a “chaos craving attack.”

We tried to recreate the simple choices routine at home, which is what she seemed to thrive with in detention.  She liked not having so many choices, and school uniforms helped with that. We made a simple schedule to follow and she liked the security of that schedule.
What we DID NOT recreate, was the “controlled chaos” that happens in detention.  She was able to get that bio chemical fill IN detention, combined with the limitations.
But at home, we are peaceful and everybody is generally happy and following societal norms of getting up on time, family devotions, going to school, helping with family chores, spending time together, playing games, going boating, going to work, family dinners etc.
THIS PART of family life, she cannot stand.  Normal? NO.  But it is very real to her.
Instead of punishments, which do not work for a child who does not understand cause / effect, we created a coin earning program for her where she would earn coins every two hours for positive behaviors.  We chose every two hours because that is all she could handle.
A few days she earned all her coins and there were prizes to be had.
More recently, she was down to about 7coins in  a week. She didn’t care about prizes or money.  She didn’t care about coins.
She was trying to recreate chaos on a regular basis and seemed to be upset, yet thrilled once she achieved that level she needed, which was getting higher and higher and more and more dangerous.

Now, at SCHOOL , there was PLENTY of chaos.  So she was chaotic.
What they DIDN’T provide, (because they cannot) was the limited choices.  There were no locks on cabinets, she could choose to go to class on time or not.  She could eat or not eat, she could see whom she wanted when she wanted and she could not handle the FREEDOMS at school, so she acted out and became more and more out of control.
Her behaviors started to spill over into instruction time, and she was spending a lot of time creating more drama.

So at home, she had peace and limits.  At school she had chaos and freedom.
At detention, she has EXTREME Limits and Controlled Chaos.
AND THAT combination seems to work for her.

The BIG question is, how to help her change her brain to see peace as desirable and not chaos.  We have had the joy of working hard  with some of our other sweeties when they first came home and we were able to successfully help them to transition to a new “normal”.   One of our sweeties took a long time for that transition to happen.

So far, after nearly 5 years, Sweetie 4 has not been able to transition. In fact, she has dug in and gone backwards in her behaviors for an extended period of time.
Sometimes I don’t think she likes it, but most of the time, sadly,  she DOES like it.  It is all driven by whatever emotion she is feeling.  She is ruled and driven by pure, raw emotion.  There is no logic to it, and therefore trying to reason on a logical, cognitive level,  is not successful.  Changing the brain’s craving from chaos to peace is proving to be a near impossible feat with Sweetie 4.

Now, what to do, WHAT TO DO!!!!

Love NEVER fails!  NEVER EVER will we give up!
BUT…we also have to be safe.

At this point, things are not in our hands and decisions will be made by the courts for her extended detention.  We are praying for wisdom and discernment for when that time is over.

She is getting older and my fears can take over my thoughts and all that does is raise my blood pressure.  UGH

We have time for visits and writing.  One of the therapists is hoping to see her in detention. This will be good!
And now, we rest, wait, plan  and pray.
Her story is NOT over.

VISITING

Tonight we will be visiting with Sweetie 4 at the detention center.  I have not seen her since Monday.  We  don’t know what to expect, other than the usual smell of the center when you walk in, the heavy doors, the buzzer that locks you into a room and the glass window that divides us and keeps us from being able to touch each other.  She will have a phone and we will have a phone.  Mike and I will take turns talking for the 30 minute visit, and then we will go home.
And she will be escorted back to her pod.
It is just so stinking sad. 🙁

I was reading up on Borderline Personality Disorder, which has been a diagnosis being thrown around for Sweetie 4.  The disorder is one of the most difficult types of mental illness.  Treatment is difficult.
And if she doesn’t want to try, there is nothing we can do.
Right now, she doesn’t want to try.
Will maturity make a difference?  I sure hope so.

But for now, we wait and watch the process unfold before our eyes.
So we visit and we talk… “What did you eat? What are you reading?”
“We have a baby chicken named Martin.”
Maybe she will smile and say ” aww, I want to see him. ” Or, maybe she will shrug her shoulders and say, “I don’t care.”
There is no way to know.  So we will smile and say, “We have a new baby chicken named Martin.”

It is a helpless place to be.  But we are not without hope.
And there are lives to live and activities to attend!
We will be attending our favorite celebration of the Harvest
with good friends.
It is just so sad that Sweetie can’t be a part of it.

So There Is This Boy…. :)

The Sweeties are getting older.  Sometimes I miss the days of this:The princesses on teh swing another fairy princess

duck girls DSCF0076 DSCF0084-1  boys%252Band%252Bgirls
4 girls
But these days are precious too….They are just the beginning of more change. 🙂kids
AND CHANGE THERE HAS BEEN….

100_9809There are now “Homecoming Dances”
and respectful requests to talk to “Dad”…..
And pictures with good friends
friendsAnd special friends…..
erika and jon

Daddy is still very special…. 🙂
100_8489

And he still takes the girls out on Thursdays.
He has been faithful to spend time with them and guide them.
They will always treasure their Thursday nights which are including a lot more driving! 🙂
As much as I love the earlier stage, I LOVE this stage too.
There are already requests being made to arrange for special Christmas Eve dinners with other families, and slowly but surely these sweeties will be ALL GROWN UP!
I am so proud them!  It just brings JOY to my heart to see them flourishing.
And I am in AWE of the process!

Order to Apprehend

images-1Yeah, that is a fancy way to say there was a warrant issued for Sweetie 4’s arrest.  She was apprehended at school today.
Once again, Sweetie 4 has found herself in the middle of turmoil, drama and incarceration.

We are at a loss for words.  The only thing a parent can do if a child is dead set on destruction, is cry out to the Lord.  We have been doing that as well as spending many days involved in intense counseling.

But it is up to Sweetie 4 to change her direction; we cannot do that for her.  
She knows the tools to use to calm herself, and she knows how to use them.  She decided she didn’t have to follow probation rules and openly flaunted the fact that she wasn’t following the rules.
She didn’t believe the rules applied to her.  She was taking joy in tormenting the family with threats of harm and the worst of cursing language.
Now she knows differently.
She unfortunately believes that we can get her out of this. She was demanding that I tell them at court on Monday to recommend she come home.  She said, “You can do that!”
She doesn’t understand the way the law works.
BUT SHE DID UNDERSTAND she wasn’t supposed to be doing what she was doing.  Secretly seeing a convicted FELON at school was NOT ok with probation!  They told her!  Sternly WARNED her! She didn’t listen.
Truly, this is probably the best thing for her, as hard as that sounds.
She is safe from “Felony Fred”.  If all goes as we believe it will, she will be in Juvenile Detention for nine months.
While we are sad,  and we feel terribly sad for her Russian sister who was to visit us next week as a surprise, we will never ever give up hope, because LOVE NEVER FAILS!

This truly has been a heartbreaking trial for our entire family.  We love our girl.  She is not without hope, but she has to look to the one who can change her heart.

I’ve been practicing my lesson the counselor gave me, keeping my surroundings very centered and making me aware of the true condition of our surroundings.  We are surrounded with loving people and family, we are in a safe place and Sweetie 4 is in a safe place too. She is not being harmed, but being kept from harming others.  She could not be in a better, well equipped detention center that offers counseling and life skills training.
We are so fortunate.  So very, very fortunate.

Sweetie 2 Had Surgery

(This video is from  5 years ago, but it is one of my favorites. She danced for my birthday)
Many of you know that two of our Sweeties are amputees.  Sweetie 2 has a below the knee amputation of her left leg.  She is an amazing athlete, dancer and daughter. 🙂
She has grown SO MUCH!  She wasn’t expected to reach 5 feet tall, but as of today, she is 5 ft. 2 1/2 inches!
With all that growth, her bones grow in her amputated leg and it causes her pain.  This is the 5th time she has had to have those bones trimmed back!
Every time it has been a 2 to 3 day hospital stay.
THIS TIME???
Would you believe she came home on the same day!!!
She is an amazing girl, and TOUGH!
I would have been whining and begging for pain meds.
Her only request was to EAT. LOL
Once she ate, and got around abit, she was ready to go home.
She is such a trooper.
AND she is a sweetheart. 🙂
Here is another favorite:

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Hey There Dear Reader,

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Keeping Your Feet On The Ground…. When Everything Is In The Air!

Sweetie 4 is continuing her spiral downward once again.  It is so very hard to watch.  And it is something completely out of our control.  The choices she continues to make, may land her back into juvenile detention for awhile.
But you know what?  We are at peace with how we are trying to guide and help her.  As her own personal storm rages on, and we are the targets of her aggression and rage,  that strong bubble that we have had to develop is working.

But I have a NEW One, that really was helpful yesterday.
After a phone call that she was once again in ISS and the knowledge that this was going to result in detention, my heart was racing and I was feeling overwhelmed.
I CANNOT keep her safe.  I can offer her safety, but I can’t make all the choices for her.  I can limit her choices, but I cannot force her to choose wisely.

Sooo, as I was driving and worrying, which is NOT a good thing to do, especially for those of us who have high blood pressure….. I decided to try what our counselor suggested.

I sat in the car and said, “Ok, my feet are right here and they are pressing on the brake and gas.  I am driving down the street in our town to pick Sweetie 3 up from college.  I have on jeans and a turtleneck.  The stores are open, and it is BEAUTIFUL outside, with a beautiful beginning sunset.
I am NOT running for my life, from ISIS, I am not in a war zone where people are being bombed and harmed.
My daughter cursed loudly at me in front of a bunch of people and threatened to harm me,  and what she said was hurtful, but I’m not dying.

And you know what?  It worked!  I was immediately calm and everything was put into perspective.  I knew I needed to call her psychiatrist, and take some notes down to make a different plan for her at the school.  Mike and I need to talk about a few different ways to try and reach her, and IF she goes to Juvenile Detention, that will be HER choice, not mine.  I will do all I can to help her make better choices, but ultimately, it is up to her, and I cannot own what she does.

That is a place of peace in the midst of a huge storm.
And I’m truly thankful for a little oasis.

TEAM WORK

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What a trail we have plodded in the last year and a half!  Sweetie 4 began to spiral out of control about that long ago.  Since then, we have been building a team to help us navigate through the tough job of parenting a child with such a difficult background, who is struggling with mental health, behavioral, hormonal, esteem, and spiritual issues.
Let me start with, my thankfulness for those in the adoption community who walk the walk and talk the talk of unconditional love, and encourage through example, the path of love.
Over the years, I have met so many, many people, too many to name, who have brought great insight and wisdom into our lives.
A HUGE Thank you.  You who blog, write, speak,share, THANK YOU.
For many, MANY families, all that is needed is a strong support group, system, family, friends and church family.  But sometimes, you need more.
In the case of Sweetie 4, we had to reach outside of our typical community and outside of our comfort zone.

We are also,  SO THANKFUL for the team of people who have come into our lives to help us help HER navigate these next few years.
With all of our other children who have come from difficult backgrounds, we have navigated the waters with them fine, and they have succeeded without extra intervention, other than us continuing to learn and study how best to parent them.
With Sweetie 4, we are on a completely different plane.  We have never worked so hard!  We thought we had before, but we had no idea. 🙂
As we have continued down this road, we have felt the Lord’s blessing in each of the people who have come into our lives.
Sweetie 4’s art therapist is provided  through the Child Advocacy Center. They are a WONDERFUL resource for therapy and specialize in TRAUMA!  They are also free of charge!  I don’t think we could have a better art therapist! She is awesome!
Our favorite social worker is coming to our home and doing family therapy, because the extreme behaviors Sweetie 4 has, has brought a tremendous amount of stress to the other sweeties and to us.  She has been by our side for almost 13 years, and we are so thankful for her insight and ideas!  Our newest experience is with a psychiatrist.
She is AWESOME! She was appointed by the court and could not be a better fit!
Then there is our pastor and elder who are our prayer partners.  They play a VITAL role in encouragement.
Our family doctor is part of our team.  And then there is the school.
Thankfully, we are in an awesome district, and I could not have asked for a better school.  They are all together in working to help Sweetie 4 succeed.
Then, we have a probation officer.  This is probably the most difficult person to trust,  on our team, but she IS on our team.  Her role is law enforcement, not therapy, and not counseling.  It has taken some getting used to, but I think she is doing a good job.

All of these people collaborate together and support us as parents!
How awesome is that!
Lastly, we have our family…. They are awesome and we could not do what we do without them.

One thing I have learned is that there are many GOOD people out there who are well trained.  The Child Advocacy Centers are nation wide and we have found excellent care there.
We plan to attend a parent support group soon through them.

It is important to realize when you cannot do things on your own.  It is not a failure to ask for help.  Of course Parents are the primary and best source of help and healing in their children’s lives, but when circumstances are extenuating, and extreme, reaching out for PROPER and SUPPORTIVE help is a good thing to do!
While this time has been extremely difficult, we have learned so very much, and we are continuing to learn.

Sweetie 4 is going to therapy and enjoying it. 🙂
This is a HUGE change from 6 months ago!

So thank you to ALL those who serve in the mental health community and GET trauma!  Thank you for understanding and being a support!

If your child is in need of more than you can provide as a parent, and things are not improving, do not hesitate to find PROPER help.
Start with your adoption social worker and they can guide you from there.
Hang in there, and remember, LOVE NEVER FAILS!

A Visit From Alex

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At our kick off meeting for Adoption Support Group, Alex Krutov came to visit.  He shared with us from his heart and we are so thankful to have had the honor to have him speak to our little group.

He also spent some time talking to the Sweeties after the meeting.

If you don’t know Alex, you really REALLY should get to know him through his book “Infinitely More” or look to hear his speak at a conference in your area.
Alex was an orphan in Russia and grew up in the system. He described what things were like for him, and also shared a great message of hope and healing.
Alex has a ministry called “The Harbor” which supports many kids who have aged out of the orphanage system.
What a blessing!
Thank you Alex!

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